The other day I was idly surfing the online catalog of a well-known BigBoxMart* store and decided to look at what was on offer in the way of bicycles. I was rather taken aback to find even adult bicycles in the TOY section of the store, although on reflection I suppose I had no reason to be surprised at all.
One of the most frequent questions we get asked in the bike store is, “Why does this child’s bike you’re offering cost $210, when I can get one in BigBoxMart for $60?”
Remember, BigBoxMart sells “bicycles” in its toy department! And I’m not just talking children’s bikes … I’m talking adult cycles too.
Halter’s is a bicycle shop. We sell bicycles. We do not sell toys!
A bike shop quality child’s bicycle is designed and built from the same components full size bicycles are constructed from with no compromise for quality or safety.
A bike shop does not regard a bicycle as a toy. It’s a transportation device designed and built up to meet a specification which can be ridden safely and without failure on the nation’s roads and by-ways.
The bicycle will be built of quality components which will remain serviceable for many years. And even then replacement parts will continue to be available.
A toy is built down to a price point. After all, it only has to look like a bike … sort of …
So here’s another top ten question, “The wheel on my child’s PinkFairy/BlueSuperHero bike is bent. Can you fix it?”
Okay, now it’s turn for one of our questions. “Why don’t you go back to BigBoxMart and ask them to fix it?”
I guess we know the answer to that one, right?
“Well, this wheel has no serviceable parts on it. I mean, it only looks like a wheel. It’s a toy wheel after all. A replacement wheel will be around $40 plus labor.”
“But the bike only cost $50!!!”
“It’s not a bike. It’s a toy. Our replacement wheel is a quality bicycle component which will not bend or fail.”
We love our customers to come back and see us, but not if it’s because they’re going to complain about some shoddy part we sold them which was bound to fail.
But let’s assume you’ve brought in your adult bicycle purchased from a toy store, erm … I meant BigBoxMart. It needs tuning and a couple of replacement parts. Okay, I’ve dealt with the cost of them, but it also requires adjustment to enable it to ride efficiently and safely.
Here’s a bike shop trade secret; it takes much longer to service and adjust a cheap, nasty, BigBoxMart toy bike than the most expensive and sophisticated bike store bought bicycle. The bike store bought bicycle will be built by skilled and experienced mechanics, have bike industry quality parts which are well-designed, durable and quickly and accurately adjustable which will stay in tune and last.
The toy bike will be assembled by some kid after school, from non-standard parts, frequently leave the BigBoxMart with stripped threads, bent and broken components before you’ve even ridden it, plus major assembly issues like having the fork on back-to-front, which makes for a dangerously unstable bike and similar safety issues. There is little scope for accurate adjustment and even then the work may only last half-way though your next ride. And you still want us to fix this?
If you’re in the market for a bicycle, for yourself or a family member get on down to your local bike shop and get some advice about purchasing a safe, quality bike which is unlikely to have issues, but if it does, the bike shop will address for you. Shop around for sure, but if you want a safe, quality bicycle, then buy from a local bike shop.
Feel free to buy a toy bike from the toy shop, but don’t be surprised when your local bike shop quotes an economic price for a safe, quality repair or service.
In reality, if you’re a conscientious parent who maintains your child’s bicycle a cheap toy will cost you as much in the long run as a quality child’s bicycle, except it’s going to spend a lot of time in the workshop.
Support your local bike shop!!!
*BigBoxMart is a figment of English Al’s imagination and bears no similarity to any large, discount warehouse type shops you might be thinking of … no really …
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Alan – That British Bloke